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Talking UnionTalking Union

Judith Stepan-Norris and Maurice Zeitlin

Narrated by Ian Eugene Ryan

Approximately 9.5 hours


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Book published by University of Illinois Press

Workers talk about the lives they lived, the battles they fought, the union they built, and the history they made. The United Auto Workers' Ford Local No. 600 was not only the biggest local union in the world, it was also one of the most militant, radical, yet democratic unions in the United States.

Talking Union gives us the exceptional opportunity to hear members of this local tell about their activism as they experienced it. These rich, eloquent narratives show the dedication and bravery that went into reshaping class relations and greatly expanding the freedom of the “common people” in America.

As an institutional, political, and cultural oral history of the struggle to unionize the River Rouge Plant near Detroit during the 1930s and 40s, this book affords us a rare insight into the difficulties of organizing a union in the face of the then anti-union Ford Motor Company. Against a backdrop of the depression and entrenched racism, history was made by courageous individuals whose rich, eloquent stories illuminate the character and views of others like them across the nation, from all backgrounds: left, right, and center; black and white; native and foreign born, Jew and gentile.

Judith Stepan-Norris is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine and Chair of Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA). She is a member of the American Sociological Review Editorial Board.

Maurice Zeitlin is Distinguished Professor at UCLA, and the co-author (with Judith Stepan-Norris) of Reds and America's Industrial Unions. He is recipient of The Max Weber Award from the American Sociological Association.


“Anybody wanting to know the real, intimate history of the labor movment in the U.S. should read Talking Union.

—Pete Seeger

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University Press Audiobooks